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2 Marine installations in Japan lock down as COVID-19 returns to Okinawa

A new outbreak of COVID-19 among “several” Marine Corps personnel led to a temporary shelter-in-place order aboard two of the numerous Marine Corps camps on Okinawa, Japan, Marine officials said.

Marine Corps Air Station Futenma closed for about four hours Tuesday afternoon to isolate those who tested positive and start contact tracing, Stars and Stripes reported.

On Wednesday evening, Camp Hansen enacted a shelter-in-place order that lasted until 9:21 a.m. Thursday, 1st. Lt. Timothy Hayes, a spokesman for the Marine Corps bases on Okinawa, said in a press release.

“These measures are put in place to ensure the safety and well-being of our forces, families, and our Okinawa neighbors,” Hayes said in the statement.

The global pandemic largely had been contained on Okinawa, which only reported 143 positive cases since the coronavirus outbreak. Prior to Thursday no local Japanese citizens had tested positive for the disease since April 30, according to Japanese statistics.

A day after Futenma issued its shelter-in-place order a Japanese man who lives near the airfield tested positive for the potentially deadly virus, Stars and Stripes reported.

The Marine Corps did not say how many Marines or family members have tested positive, but a statement from Hayes said “several SOFA (status of forces agreement) personnel,” have contracted COVID-19.

A total of 1,600 Marines have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Department of Defense statistics ― a number that has seen a dramatic increase in the past weeks as positive tests have been spiking around the U.S.

A March 12 travel ban followed by a military-wide stop movement order temporarily halted the flow of Marines to and from Japan.

But in late May the military started to roll back the order with some restrictions in place and in early June travel to Japan was approved by the Pentagon.

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